It doesn’t take long to browse around my writings to see that I’m a huge advocate for marriage. I definitely felt led to marriage and I love it… now. But there is a myth out there that is deeply wounding single people. Whether we speak it or not, we believe being married is better than being single. This especially happens in the church.
I remember back in the day when I was a college student working at a summer camp how this impacted me. The camp had leadership programs for boys to learn “church duties.” There was no counterpart for girls. So I suggested taking one bible lesson and teaching the teen girls how to prepare lessons for children, using a different targeted age group each day. The director loved my idea and said, “Maybe we could get one of the preacher’s wives to teach it.” Teaching children was my passion. With my jaw dropped, I walked away feeling as if my talents were ignored simply because I didn’t have “Mrs.” before my name.
Two of the most prolific contributors to the New Testament were… you guessed it… SINGLE! Jesus and the Apostle Paul were not married, spouseless, flying solo. Whatever you want to call it they served God without marriage. This portion of 1 Cor. 7 says it best:
Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are. If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.
But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord. But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.
What I get from that passage is, you do what glorifies God the most in your life, whether it is being single or married. During the conditions Paul was writing in, he was suggesting single-hood.
Maybe you are single and feel pressure to find “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right”? I would like to suggest embracing your single status and giving it to God as an offering. Maybe you are one of us married folk who has a hard time accepting other people’s single-hood? May I suggest this, rather that match making, help them appreciate where they are. And all of us, whether single or married need to use our circumstances to serve the Lord the best way we can!